Peckham, South East London is an area of great cultural diversity with a rich history. It is now one of ‘the places to be’ for up and coming trendy businesses. I arrived at Peckham Rye station, amongst the colourful food stalls, flaunting the best of Afro-Caribbean and European fruit and vegetables. Taking me back to my childhood days, were I attended a local school, I allowed myself to become immersed in the smells radiating from the stalls and the vibrancy Peckham offers. Needless to say I was excited to get tasting.
My first stop was breakfast and off I went with Jane and Julia to Peckham Refreshment Rooms just a stones throw from the station. Walking into this quaint place looking at its open plan design, long high benches and bar stalls, I was not sure if this was a bar or café? However, one look at the menu and I knew this place was something special. Far from the cry of your average café food, Peckham Refreshment Rooms offers a sophisticated mixture of old traditional dishes with a French twist. My order of 2 eggs, served in the pan, with artisan potato bread presented rustically was mouth watering and I devoured every crumb.
Having been open less than 6 months the co-owners James and Sven have a wealth of experience in the food industry, which is reflected by the quality of their menu. From their bread supplier in Waterloo, to their vegetables from New Covent Market, meat from Flock & Herd and selected ranges of UK wine and beer, Peckham Refreshment Rooms is a breath of fresh air. James described their food as small portions of great quality dishes and recommends the duck confit, black fig and chicory. I am yet to sample this signature dish but all the reviews sing its praises.
Last month Chantelle’s Tasty Titbits visited Borough Market and promised to follow up with The Cinnamon Tree Bakery and visit I did. Having opened up their own café less than 3 months ago, following their wholesale success, the owners Andy and Anita are now very busy bakers. Aside from their the café, the Cinnamon Tree Bakery can also be found at 3 local markets – Borough, Brockley and Broadway – and also do wholesale to various local establishments. Despite their busy schedule we did manage to steal Andy away from baking for a little chat, some coffee and of course to try some bakes.
Looking at the counter the familiar owl shortbread and elephant print cookies were irresistible and this time I wasn’t going to let those owls get away. With my cookie in one hand and soya hot chocolate in the other, I sat down with Andy to discuss how they design their cookies and their flavour process. Andy described their complex method of substitution and reduction to obtain their various cookie and cake flavours and was kind enough to let us sample one of his new Christmas recipes. Whilst I can’t give away any secrets Andy and Anita’s take on the traditional mince pie come crumble was scrumptious. I am not ashamed to say I left on a slight sugar rush from all the tasting. Another interesting fact we learned whilst munching away was that they deliver using a gas powered Berlingo, being environmental conscious and they also stock Essex made Honey made by Andy’s parents.
The Last place we had to visit was The Montpelier Pub. Set back from the high street this pub is part of the Parched Pubs Ltd an independent pub company. Not only does this pub offer drinks and food but is also a cinema and gallery incorporated into one. Stepping into the intimate cinema I couldn’t help but imagine by own film premier – coming to a blog near you soon. On a Thursday afternoon The Montpelier was rather quiet and gave us the opportunity to have a great chat with bar staff who gave us a tour of the cinema. Showing films from Sunday through to Wednesday with a maximum of 25 people in a stunning red room with long leather clad benches. Along the walls you can see work by local artists – but back to food.
The Montpelier is a great example of community spirit and supporting local suppliers. Being part of the SRA (Sustainable Restaurant Association) they are continuing to ensure that they source sustainably. They work closely with a small organic farm in Sussex and a local butcher and fishmonger. They also bake their own bread and serve homemade pickles and ice-cream. Once again having eaten too much too early I was unable to sample anything off the restaurant menu but am sure that Blue Patch will be back for a cinema showing and some grub. Peckham was definitely full of new wonders and old comforts.